The Keeper (pt15)

I followed him to the park, hearing him sniffle without seeing it. When I thought about it, his eyes had looked rather red.

We arrived at the park before too long and he ran over to the abandoned, swing set, jumping onto one of the seats and letting the motion carry him back and forth. “We can’t go together anymore.”

His words made no sense. “What?”

“No one can go anymore. It’s closed off.”

I stared at him, understanding not nearing as one might think it would. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“They closed everything off.” His words came closer to home and I suddenly realized what he might be referring to. “So we can’t go together anymore.”

The Librarian’s hollow eyes.

Moving forward

He tripped somewhere near the top step. With a sound which came out like a yowl, he barrelled forward into the door. Instead of smoothly opening it or the like, instead he bashed his head into it. He took a few steps back, shaking his head. No one saw it, it was fine. Just a reminder.

“Is this the way out?” he called back behind him.

The emptiness behind him said nothing. Yet he felt the void in front of him, not from the nothing from behind. Behind was comfort, behind was where he came from. Sent forward for…

The void was ahead, clawing out everything he had been told.

“This is the way out.” He said it aloud to reaffirm himself. As if to agree, the door opened. He walked forward where the future waited.

Then the door shut behind him.

Nothing left for him to find

“I can’t help you,” said Raz. “You aren’t looking for something he’s gotten into. You have to look into what he’s getting out of.”

Zamir tried not to grit his teeth. “What are you implying?”

“That note addressed to you? You know why he left then.” Zamir shook his head, while Raz wheezed out some more laughter. “You’re just bein’ stubborn. Like him. I see the resemblance.”

“Is this all the help you’re going to be?”

Raz pulled his cigarette out and jabbed it in Zamir’s direction. “I’ve been helping you all day! Getting in the way of my own job, you know? He’s left you, get it? No one else up and outed with him. You’re like a bird that can’t fly, jumping off a cliff. Recognize you’re grounded.”

He wouldn’t protest out loud. He couldn’t. Zamir refused to sound like a child to this homeless man who probably conned enough money out of people to have a home if he had bothered.

Dropping the cigarette, Raz put it out with his heel. “I’ll miss Shachaf. Good guy. Hope he finds better.”

And Raz left him with the truth. Shachaf had left by his own volition.

Zamir refused. He had to have been blackmailed. Coerced. Something.

There was nothing left for him to find.

What Zamir didn’t want to consider

“Smoking?”

Raz gave him a look. It was one that suggested he would have risen an eyebrow, had he a brow to raise. “Listen,” he lisped, “if I gave a fuck about my lungs, I wouldn’t be living in the city. We’re already in it, why not complete the journey?”

That confused Zamir, though he didn’t say anything. Shachaf didn’t usually hang out with nihilists. Nor did it seem like one would help with a missing person’s report. “Consider my opinion shut.”

“Like this case?” Raz blew out smoke. Thankfully he aimed it in a direction other than Zamir’s face. “Something you’re not telling me, Vest?”

Zamir couldn’t imagine what, until he could. The paper that sat in his wallet. The reason he had started looking in the first place, long before he might have if his brother hadn’t left him a message.

But even those three words were personal. He wouldn’t share them with Raz.

“Look. If you give a fuck about this search, you would lay it straight. Come this far, yeah?”

It was true, he had. Zamir steeled himself and presented the note.

Thank you. Goodbye.